The Official Goal of NaNoWriMo
Goal #1 Write the first draft of a complete 50,000 word novel in 30 days.
The Spirit of NaNoWriMo Goals
Goal #2 Write 50,000 words, no matter how long it takes.
Goal #3 Complete the first draft of your novel, no matter how many words it is.
The After NaNoWriMo is Over Goal
Goal #4 Take your completed first draft, polish it until it shines, and decide how you want to move forward with it.
When you have a specific goal and deadline that you’re committed to it keeps you focused and moving forward at a steady pace. Yet, if you start to fall behind, and see the possibility of actually meeting your deadline date dissolving in your mind’s eye, you start to lose energy. Why work so hard when you’re not going to meet your deadline, anyway.
Even if you write full-steam ahead to the deadline date, once you’ve passed it--whether you met your goal or not--your energy and focus tends to deflate.
That’s why recognizing that NaNoWriMo is not one, but many goals is so important. If you feel you’re not going to meet the first goal of completing your novel by November 30th, then commit to the second goal of writing 50,000 words no matter how long it takes. If you do complete 50,000 words by November 30, but your novel isn’t finished yet, then commit to the third goal of completing the first draft of your novel no matter how long it is. And if you’ve finished your novel, no matter how long it is or how long it took you to write, commit to the fourth goal of polishing it and continuing to move forward.
This may seem obvious, but I’m bringing it up for a particular reason. Because of NaNoWriMo’s bold goals, communal support and firm deadline, it inspires you to give your best. It pumps up the volume on your commitment. It shows you what you’re capable of when you become laser-focused on a goal, and really go for it.
So when your focus begins to fade, whether it’s because you fell behind on your word count or because November 30th has come and gone, remember what it’s like to feel this focused, this committed, this productive. Take the time, right now, while you’re still moving full-speed ahead towards your goal, to notice what thoughts, feelings, and actions support you in your commitment, as well as those that get in your way. Write them down, because no matter how obvious they seem in this moment, you probably won’t remember them when you’re having a bad day, or trying to figure out what to do next.
Use this list to energize you when you move to your next commitment. Use this list to keep the spirit of NaNoWriMo alive all year long. Not every month can be a “put your life on hold to write” month, but every time you write, you can write with a "full-speed ahead" sense of passion and commitment.